An artist's delicate balance of life

Photo-artist Nina Anthony blends multiple layers to create evocative textures

By Teresa Dovalpage
Posted 5/8/19

Looking at one of Nina Anthony's photographs, you could easily think it's an oil or a watercolor. Her compositions are more than "literal interpretations" of the world around us, with her shots of …

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An artist's delicate balance of life

Photo-artist Nina Anthony blends multiple layers to create evocative textures


Looking at one of Nina Anthony's photographs, you could easily think it's an oil or a watercolor. Her compositions are more than "literal interpretations" of the world around us, with her shots of earth, sky, trees and birds being witnesses to her mastery of fine art photography.

"My work is often mistaken for paintings," she said. "Once people find out that it is photography based, they're very curious about my technique."

Today she will share with Tempo readers details about her artistic process. But first, let's meet the woman behind the camera.

Growing up, Anthony never lived very long in one place. Her father worked for the Department of Defense and the family moved around a lot. Cleveland, Ohio; Fukuoka, Japan; Bangkok, Thailand; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Indianapolis, Indiana, were her home at different times. Anthony remembers her stay on an air force base in Japan near her mother's family -- her mother was Japanese -- as one of the most pleasant times in her childhood.

Anthony got a degree in journalism from Indiana University. After graduating, she worked for several years as a writer for ad agencies. It was that work that first brought her to New Mexico in 1988 for research. By 1993 she was a permanent resident.

"Taos is the longest I have lived anywhere," she said. "It will be 25 years this summer."

These years have brought joy, art and sadness to her life. When her husband of 30 years died suddenly in 2014, Anthony turned to her photography as a way to process her grief.

"Capturing the outer beauty that surrounds me helps create my own inner landscapes of beauty," she said. "It helps me recover a sensation of life and vitality in the midst of feelings of hopelessness that come and go, even several years later. I recently started to draw on my writing background to write poetry that accompanies my imagery and conveys my emotions."

Anthony now shares her San Cristóbal home with two cats, two dogs and a horse.

"My daughter, Maya, moved back here a couple of years of ago with her boyfriend and we are very close," she said. "We help each other on our ongoing journey through grief and every day we move forward, one step at a time."

Anthony's work is represented by David Anthony Fine Art in Taos and Magpie gallery in El Prado. She will have a one-month show with Kristel Elisabeth at the end of August at Read Lockhart Gallery in Taos. She also works full time for Amigos Bravos, an environmental nonprofit that has been protecting and preserving New Mexico's rivers and watersheds for 30 years.

What sparked your interest in photography?

In the late 90s, my interest in photography was ignited after taking a darkroom printing class taught by Taos photographer William Davis. The class, called "The Print," was modeled after the black-and-white printing techniques of Ansel Adams. After honing my darkroom printing skills, I switched to digital in the early 2000s and have been developing my own skills and personal style ever since.

Could you talk in more detail about your artistic process? Do you use filters or apps?

There's a saying, "There's an app for that," and that is certainly the case with photography these days. There are apps for everything from making photos look like Van Gogh paintings to apps that mimic 19th-century tintypes. That said, I do not use filters or apps to process my work. My technique is much more time-intensive, using Photoshop to blend my original base image with multiple layers of texture. These texture-rich images can be everything from metal and stone surfaces that I capture in the field to old leather book covers and crumbled paper that I scan and add to my ever-growing library of textures that now includes more than 400 images. Overlaying textures to the base image adds visual depth and a painterly façade to my images. It can take many hours of experimenting to get the result I'm seeking. Last year, I took a couple of workshops in encaustic techniques and I am now incorporating encaustic medium, gouache, acrylic and oil paints, fabric, paper, and found objects into my photography-based art.

What is your favorite image, or one that has a special meaning to you?

I don't really have a favorite image, but there's an image called "Equilibrium" that was one of my earliest experiments with texture and the image itself has meaning to me. The atmosphere is a bit dark and foreboding but the dead tree remains leaning toward light. For me, it is symbolic of hope and the delicate balance of life: Darkness and light. Sadness and joy. Birth and death. We all lose something before we gain something or someone. It's part of the circle of life. I, like everyone, am learning to find that delicate balance -- that equilibrium.

You share some of your artwork on Facebook. Why do you choose to use social media?

I have had people message me on social media to tell me that my images have brightened their day and brought them solace. That is the greatest compliment for any artist -- to evoke an emotional response from the viewer. It pleases me to know that my photography can be more than a mere mechanical recording of a scene, but also a form of artistic expression that conveys my feelings for the places, people and cultures that I encounter and, most importantly, brings joy to others -- if only for a moment. I want the viewer of my work to feel transported to a timeless natural world where beauty and hope transcend the routine of day-to-day life. I firmly believe that in these uncertain times of upheaval--where anger and fear prevail -- art that opens us up to connection and empathy is needed more than ever.

David Anthony Fine Art is located at 132 Kit Carson Road. Call (575) 758-7113. Visit Magpie gallery is at 1405 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in the Overland Compound in El Prado. Call (781) 248-0166. Visit


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